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separation, they both fall on their knees and bend their faces to the earth, and this ceremony is repeated two or three times.
Their expressions mean as little as their ceremonies. If a Chinese is asked how he finds himself in health, he answers, “ Very well, thanks to your abundant felicity.” If they would tell a man that he looks well, they say, “ Prosperity is painted on your face.” or “ Your air announces your happiness.” If you dine with them, they tell you at parting, “We have not treated you with sufficient distinction.” The various titles they invent for each other it would be impossible to translate.
It is to be observed that all these answers are prescribed by the Chinese Ritual or Academy of Compliments. In this institution are determined the number of bows, the expressions to be employed, the genuflections, the inclinations which are to be made to the right or left hand, the salutations of the master before the chair on which the stranger is to be seated, for he salutes it most profoundly, and wipes the dust away with the skirts of his robe : all these and other things are noticed, even to the silent gestures by which you are entreated to enter the house. The lower class of people are equally nice in these particulars, and ambassadors pass forty days in practising them before they are enabled to appear at court. A tribunal of ceremonies has been erected; and every day very odd decrees are issued, to which the Chinese most religiously submit.
The marks of honour are frequently arbitrary ; to be seated with us is a mark of repose and familiarity; to stand up, that of respect. There are countries, however, in which princes will only be addressed by persons who are seated, and it is considered as a favour to be permitted to stand in the royal presence. This custom prevails in despotic countries. A despot cannot suffer without disgust the elevated figure of his subjects; he is pleased to bend their bodies with their genius ; his presence must lay those who behold him prostrate on the earth; he desires no eagerness, no attention ; he is only anxious to inspire terror, and produce consternation and trembling.
OF THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF CITIES AND TOWNS AFTER THE FALL OF
THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
PART I. The inhabitants of cities and towns were, after the fall of the Roman empire, not more favoured than those of the country. They consisted, indeed, of a very different order of people from the first inhabitants of the ancient republics of Greece and Italy. These last were composed chiefly of the proprietors of lands, among whom the public territory was originally divided, and who found it convenient to build their houses in the neighbourhood of one another, and to surround them with a wall for the sake of common defence. After the fall of the Roman empire, on the contrary, the proprietors of land seem generally to have lived in fortified castles on their own estates, and in the midst of their own tenants and dependents. The towns were chiefly inhabited by tradesmen and mechanics, who seem in those days to have been of servile, or very nearly servile, condition. The privileges which we find granted by ancient charters to the inhabitants of some of the principal towns in Europe, sufficiently show what they were before those grants. The people, to whom it is granted as a privilege that they might give away their own daughters in marriage without the consent of their lord, that upon their death their own children, and not their lord, should succeed to their goods, and that they might dispose of their own effects by will, must, before those grants were made, have been altogether, or very nearly, in the same state of villeinage with the occupiers of land in the country.
They seem, indeed, to have been a very poor, mean set of people, who used to travel about with their goods from place to place, and from fair to fair, like the hawkers and pedlars of the present times. In all the different countries of Europe then, in the same way as in several of the Tartar governments of Asia at present, taxes used to be levied upon the persons and goods of travellers when they passed through certain manors, when they went over certain
bridges, when they carried about their goods from place to place in a fair, when they erected in it a booth or stall to sell them in. These different taxes were known in England by the names of passage, frontage, lastage, and stallage. Sometimes the king, sometimes a great lord, who had, it seems, upon some occasions, authority to do this, would grant to particular traders—to such particularly as lived within their own demesnes—a general exemption from such taxes. Such traders, though in other respects of servile, or very nearly of servile, condition, were upon this account called free-traders. They in return usually paid to their protector a sort of annual poll-tax. In those days protection was seldom granted without a valuable consideration, and this tax might perhaps be considered as compensation for what their patrons might lose by their exemption from other taxes. At first both those polltaxes and those exemptions seem to have been altogether personal, and to have affected only particular individuals, during either their lives or the pleasure of their protectors. In the very imperfect accounts which have been published from Domesday Book of several of the towns in England, mention is frequently made, sometimes of the tax which particular burghers paid, each of them, either to the king or to some other great lord, for this sort of protection, and sometimes of the general amount only of all those taxes.
But how servile soever may have been originally the · condition of the inhabitants of the towns, it appears
evident that they arrived at liberty and independence much earlier than the occupiers of land in the country. That part of the king's revenue which arose from such poll-taxes in any particular town used commonly to be let in farm during a term of years for a certain rent, sometimes to the sheriff of the county, and sometimes to other persons. The burghers themselves frequently got credit enough to be admitted to farm the revenues of this sort which arose out of their own town, they becoming jointly and severally answerable for the whole rent. To let a farm in this manner was quite agreeable to the usual economy of the sovereigns of all the different countries of Europe, who used frequently to let whole manors to all the
tenants of those manors, they becoming jointly and severally answerable for the whole rent, but in return being allowed to collect it in their own way, and to pay it into the king's exchequer by the hands of their own bailiff, and being thus altogether freed from the insolence of the king's officers—a circumstance which in those days was regarded as of the greatest importance.
At first, the farm of the town was probably let to the burghers in the same manner as it had been to other farmers—for a term of years only. In process of time, however, it seems to have become the general practice to grant it to them in fee—that is, for ever, reserving a certain rent, never afterwards to be augmented. The payment having thus become perpetual, the exemptions, in return for which it was made, naturally became perpetual too. Those exemptions, therefore, ceased to be personal, and could not afterwards be considered as belonging to individuals as individuals, but as burghers of a particular burgh, which upon this account was called a free burgh, for the same reason that they had been called free-burghers, or free-traders.
Along with this grant, the important privileges above mentioned, that they might give away their own daughters in marriage, that their children should succeed them, and that they might dispose of their own effects by will, were generally bestowed upon the burghers of the town to whom it was given. Whether such privileges had before been usually granted along with the freedom of trade, to particular burghers as individuals, is not certain. But, however this may have been, the principal attributes of villeinage and slavery being thus taken away from them, they now, at least, became really free in our present sense of the word freedom
Nor was this all. They were generally at the same time erected into a commonalty or corporation, with the privilege of having magistrates and a town council of their own, of making bye-laws for their own government, of building walls for their own defence, and of reducing all their inhabitants under a sort of military discipline by obliging them to watch and ward ; that is, as anciently
understood, to guard and defend those walls against all attacks and surprises by night as well as by day. In England, they were generally exempted from suit to the hundred and county courts ; and all such pleas as should arise among them, the pleas of the crown excepted, were left to the decision of their own magistrates. In other countries much greater and more extensive jurisdictions were frequently granted to them.
It might, probably, be necessary to grant to such towns as were admitted to farm their own revenues, some sort of compulsory jurisdiction to oblige their own citizens to make payment. In those disorderly times it might have been extremely inconvenient to have left them to seek this sort of justice from any other tribunal. But it must seem extraordinary that the sovereigns of all the different countries of Europe should have exchanged in this manner for a certain rent, never more to be augmented, that branch of their revenue, which was, perhaps, of all others, the most likely to be improved by the natural course of things, without either expense or attention of their own ; and that they should, besides, have in this manner voluntarily erected a sort of independent republics in the heart of their own dominions.
In order to understand this, it must be remembered that in those days the sovereign of perhaps no country in Europe was able to protect, through the whole extent of his dominions, the weaker part of his subjects from the oppression of the great lords. Those whom the law could not protect, and who were not strong enough to defend themselves, were obliged either to have recourse to the protection of some great lord-and in order to obtain it to become either his slaves or his vassals—or to enter into a league of mutual defence for the common protection of one another. The inhabitants of cities and burghs, considered as single individuals, had no power to defend themselves ; but by entering into a league of mutual defence with their neighbours, they were capable of making no contemptible resistance. The lords despised the burghers, whom they considered not only as a different order, but as a parcel of emancipated slaves, almost of a different species from